The Master's Instructions about Christian's together. (Matthew 16:13-19).
God does not intend anyone to live an isolated Christian life. Much of the New Testament teaches the believer how to be integrated into God’s family. The promises our Lord Jesus made were frequently directed to groups of people, to churches, rather than to individual Christians. In John 14:1-4 ‘many rooms’ are prepared for a company of people. In Acts 1:4-8 ‘the Holy Spirit’ and ‘power’ are promised to the disciples collectively.
The meaning of ‘church’
From Matthew 16:13-19 we can learn our Lord’s intention for His church. The word is used here for the first time in the Bible. It means ‘an
assembly of people’, those who are called out of the crowd to become a
By looking at Acts 5:11; 8:1, 3 and 11:26 we can see that the church is
definitely people, and not premises.
Membership of the church
Since the church belongs to Christ and is being built by Him, He knows who
are members and who are not. He is the One through Whom the Father
and the Holy Spirit are calling a people out of the world. In Matthew 16
Peter had something revealed to him by God. He saw Jesus Christ as the
Son of the living God. Peter responded by faith. He gave a clear
declaration of Who he believed Jesus to be.
Today people become members of the true church in exactly the same
way. It happened in Jerusalem’s market-place in Acts 2. There was
revelation (v.36), and response (v.41). Then the last verses go on to
describe the collective Christian community.
Peter and John later described the community in their letters. People
‘built into a spiritual house’ (1 Peter 2:4-5). People ‘born of God’ who
‘believe in Jesus Christ’ (1 John 5:1-5).
The church meeting
Wherever a group of Christians gather in the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ, there is a church. The New Testament knew such gatherings by
place names (Romans 16:1, 5; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philemon v.2).
In Acts there was a clear numbering of the believers giving a knowledge
of who was inside and who was outside the church. Trace the growth
through Acts 1:15; 2:41; 4:4; 5:14 and 6:1, 7. In Acts 9:26-28 we see Paul
trying to join the church and eventually being accepted on the testimony
The benefits of such a collective commitment and community can be
The Christians could:
encourage each other,
comfort each other,
support each other,
have a greater collective impact on the larger community
and experience the special presence of Jesus and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
they could pray together.
they could learn to love one another.
they could have the rough edges knocked off their own lives.
they could learn from each other.
A genuine profession of repentance towards God and faith in our Lord
Jesus Christ, together with a personal faith in the living God, Father, Son
and Holy Spirit, will be expressed best in church membership – joining up
with a collection of other Christians as a church.
Discussion guide for ‘Born into the family of God’
1. Describe your church family. What do they meet for? How often?
Why do they do this?
2. According to Matthew 16:13-20, Who’s is the church? Who will build
the church? Why is it important to remember this?
3. Can you find in these verses how a person becomes a member of
this church of Jesus?
• They are told about their own shortcomings
• They listen to God tell them about their Saviour
• They speak out the Lordship of Jesus Christ
God’s way of working, His revelation to us, always requires a
response from us.
4. If we think of God as “our Father in heaven”, what lessons can we
learn about the Christian church family from our human families,
especially from our relationships with our fathers? What does/did our
father do for us? What do we do for him? etc.
5. Look at all the New Testament letters. In the first chapter and
the first few verses they describe the church they were written
to. How many can you find? How is each church described?
6. Today, local churches in an area of a village, town or city, may call
themselves after their location. They may have conditions of
membership, conditions that people must meet before they can be
members. Does your church have any conditions for membership?
What are they?
7. The simplest of conditions for membership are as follows:
• Profession of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord
Jesus Christ, expressed in baptism
• Personal living faith in God the Father, God the Son and God
the Holy Spirit, One God in three persons
• Belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible and their final
authority in all matters of faith and conduct
How do these compare with your church?
Are the differences important? Why? Why not?